This is Why #iLoveJAX

Our skyline…

I hear so many complaints about Jacksonville, and while I can be the first to admit that it definitely has it’s issues such as: not enough public art, not enough separation between church and state, and crazy random weather that ranges anywhere between monsoon season that causes excessive flooding to seasons of drought that cause way too many wild fires, but our issues don’t make us any different than any other city in the nation. Every city has it’s ups and downs, but like anything in life, we need to be able to look at the big picture, the silver lining,  and embrace all that makes our city fabulous while we continue to work on the little annoying nuisances & wrinkles that still need to be addressed and ironed out.

All that being said, I would like to direct you to a few of my favorite things in Jacksonville. Some will be expected, some will be surprises while some, you will feel are coming out of left field. Either way, enjoy!

1. It’s just plain pretty here!

View of Jax from the ATT Building

From our beaches, to our sky, to our river, to the swamps, to our urban core, the bridges, the architecture, the landscape…Jacksonville is pretty and unlike other large cities it’s way cleaner too! Now, that does not excuse anyone who finds it acceptable to litter or pollute any area of our city, this goes for large businesses dumping toxic chemicals into our river to the home owner dumping trash into the sewer. Don’t be a litter bug people! That way we can keep our city lookin’ pretty 🙂

2. Sports!!!

The day I finally met the infamous Jaxson de Ville 🙂

What?! Did an artist just endorse sports? The answer is: Yup and I’ll do it again if you ask. This includes the Jags, the Sharks, the Giants, the Suns, and rumor has it we even have a professional lacrosse team which I think is awesome, I haven’t had a chance to see them in action, but hope to one day soon. I’m bummed that we lost our professional soccer & hockey teams not too long ago, but here’s to believing that we’ll get them back. I will admit, I’m not much for college sports, but I’m still happy that our city hosts the FL/GA games & the Gator Bowl. Regardless of whether your heart lies with the arts or sports, I think it’s important to support both. Playing sports teaches you how to be a member of a team and work together while being active and getting healthy, while being involved in the arts challenges your mind and feeds your soul, all which are very important to having a well rounded life. As you can tell by a lot of my art work, I enjoyed being active and having fun. I could never claim to be athletic by any means, but active yes.

3. The Food!

A meat pie & salad from Bakery Moderne in Riverside…so yummy 🙂

Yup, there’s is more than just fast food and Applebees in these here parts! (<- Pretend I just said that in my best southern accent.) There are so many awesome locally owned restaurants, bakeries, coffeehouses, candy stores, etc ready and available to satisfy even the most distinguished palate. Here is a list of some of my faves w/ links to their websites in no particular order:

*Disclaimer: I’m sure there are many names I have left off here, so please forgive me. I will add on new names as I remember or as I get the opportunity to try new places.

4. The Festivals & Events!

4th of July Fireworks over downtown.

We have so many outdoor festivals and events and a ton of them are FREE! It’s true and too many people don’t know about this which is sad. Here are a few of my faves that are free:

And here are a couple more that have admission prices:

5. Nature is Everywhere!

Oranges are everywhere…

It’s true. Besides the fire ants & mosquitoes, I’d say we have some of the best nature this side of the Mississippi. We have the beach, the river, various swamps and bayous. On any given day you can find manatees or dolphins in the St. Johns and/or in the Atlantic; cranes, egrets, & Canadian geese(?!) hanging out in retention ponds year round, and let’s not forget the gators and bears that occasionally show up in our backyards, that always make for an exciting encounter. And then there are the trees! Among the magnolia, cypress, and palm trees, you’ll also find majestic oaks, gorgeous weeping willows and blooming crape myrtles and, of course, there are also the fruit trees: orange, lemon, grapefruit, plum, papaya, etc., etc., etc.  Even through all the urban sprawl and tacky subdivisions, we still have a good amount of nature, some that is still in it’s original condition and some that has adapted to the changes in the landscape done by developers while others are man made. Of course, most of us would prefer to see the City of Jacksonville build up instead of out so as to stop the destruction of our natural wetlands & other resource and hopefully learn & grow from our past mistakes and continue to develop a better, cleaner, healthier Jacksonville.

Here are some great links to help you enjoy nature at it’s finest:

6. Almost Last But Certainly Not Least: THE JAX ART SCENE!!!

The Reddi Arts Mural located at 1037 Hendricks Ave.

Which includes but is not limited to: visual art, music, poetry, theater, etc. I don’t even know where to start on this one! First, let me say, as a local artist myself, I have seen the Jax art scene grow by leaps and bounds. It still has a long way to go to reach it’s full potential which includes finding ways to fund artists directly for the work they do, increasing art education in schools, having the city invest more into our public art programs, finding ways of extending our reach beyond those already connected to the art scene and reaching the “outsiders” who have no idea what kind of power and presence the arts has in everyday life, and getting more and better media coverage of artistic and cultural events. There are several artists and  artistic/cultural organizations that are doing great things in our community, constantly pushing boundaries, always creating, and continuously engaging our community for the sake of art. Here are some of my favorites and let me just say, it would be impossible to list everyone, but if you get connected with even just one of these artists/organizations/magazines, you will open up the enormous world that is our local art scene, so start connecting and spreading the word!

In no particular order, I present to you:

*I’ll be here all day if I keep listing people and groups, so if I left your name off the list, please forgive me, but feel free to leave your info in the comments for people to find you 🙂

7. Special Art Stuff That I’ve Been Doing

  • OPERATION: Bring Art to the People: a public art project revolving around the idea of leaving random art in random locations for random people to find in an effort to connect new people to the thriving Jacksonville Art Scene
Art Drop done at a JTA bus stop near a vacant auto dealership in the Southside.
  • The Dingo Loves JAX Series: And because I love Jacksonville and because I love my dog, I have started making art glorifying both 🙂

“The Dingo Visits Friendship Fountain” 8″x8″ mixed media on canvas

“The Dare Devil Dingo Crosses the Dames Point” 8″x8″ mixed media on canvas

“The Dingo Visits NAS JAX” 8″x8″ mixed media on canvas

8. And Finally: MISCELLANEOUS

Here are a few more random links to  some of my favorite places to help keep you busy while exploring J’ville:

I hope you have enjoyed this compilation of some of my most favorite things to do and see in Jax and hopefully I have helped introduce you to some new and interesting things to love about this great city. There are so many more new things on the horizon and if I had the time (and if I was getting paid), I would certainly go into much greater detail than what I already have on this post. Your job now, is take all this new information, share it with your friends, family, and anyone else who will listen and learn to love and embrace this city so many of us call home 🙂

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-YCL

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